Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Most Unlikely Story

Here we are, acutely self-aware creatures, standing around in a world that takes our breath away, wondering how we got here and why. The very fact that we ask the question says something important-perhaps, if we are conscious persons able to philosophize about our own existence, that existence was more than an accident. Isn't the very possibility worth a lifetime of exploration?

And so explore we did. Humanity ended up with a million gods and a thousand codes of ethics. We produced Socrates and Confucius and Buddha. And in the midst of the divine milieu arose a strange tribe who had no idols to bow down to. These children of Abraham insisted the creator of the cosmos spoke to them and made them promises, which they recorded generation after generation. Rather than one ancient myth, this tribe continued to produce an unfolding history of this personal creator's miracles and promises. They looked ahead to a day when a King would come, a King to restore them and reveal God's favor, who would atone for sin and bring freedom. And, quite audaciously, they claimed their King, once revealed, would turn out to be King of all the nations of the world. In a world of inter-changeable deities (Alexander sacrificing to Egyptian Amon, Romans calling Zeus Jupiter, etc.) this story of one God who would someday claim all the world as his people was nothing if not unique.

But how could such a thing ever happen? Can we really imagine people from foreign nations all around the world claiming the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their own? Why would pagans bow to a Jewish Messiah? What would make the distant coastlands long for his instruction?

Yet, somehow, it happened. Today hundreds of millions all over the earth worship the God of Abraham. Members of a thousand languages name the "son of David" their King. The world's most unlikely story has, and continues to, come to pass.

And it all hinged on a moment in history, when a small group of forgotten, occupied people realized that God's King had been revealed.

John says it like this:

"We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of Life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life."

And Paul says it like this:

"He was revealed in a human body
and vindicated by the Spirit
He was seen by angels
and announced to the nations.
He was believed in throughout the world
and taken into heaven in glory."

Humanity once stumbled in the darkness, reaching for the meaning of existence. We longed for God, but how could we really know him? How could the unfathomable, the very one who brought all things in to being, every truly be known by us? But now curtain has been opened, and we see him. We see him love, we see him suffer, we see him rise. And we see him call to the nations- "Come walk with me."

Paul sums up this most unlikely story, the human story even now unfolding, like this:
"From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way towards him and find him...God overlooked people's ignorance in earlier times, but now he commands everyone to repent from their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved it to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead."

No more darkness; the King has been revealed. All may come to him, be made new in him, and take their place in the unlikely story.


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